FILE - A Taliban fighter (C) stands guard as women wait in a line during a World Food Program cash distribution in Kabul, Nov. 29, 2021.

A Taliban fighter (C) stands guard as women wait in a line during a World Food Program cash distribution in Kabul, Nov. 29, 2021.


by Shamsa Ishfaq     27 May 2022

Of late, there has been a lot of writing and talks on Afghanistan going through a drastic change under Taliban rule since they have took over in August 2021. Most referred to or much talked about changes significantly include human rights abuse, women and girls education and matter of Hijab. Well to some extent, Yes there are problems but not as they are being portrayed. Since perception building is mostly done through media therefore a big chunk of responsibility lies with media if they want the audience to see glass as half full or half empty. It’s always only a few who have first-hand knowledge of any crucial situation or event and the rest of the world see through eyes of those few. And that is how societies are fed with optimism or pessimism and at times hallucination vis-à-vis a certain group or state. As a result, negative perception is built but problems faced in maintaining certain standards and efforts to address the issues are usually put under the carpet. Then after months and years reports and confessions surface sheepishly claiming how it was all wrong. Afghanistan is one such country that has been used by major powers of the world to their advantage in decades of war and then left the war-torn Afghanistan lurching in problems for other opportunists so they may get their interests served too.

There is no denying the fact that Afghanistan is engulfed with issues like instability, law & order, women education and hijab, human rights and to top it humanitarian crisis. Paradoxically, global media is prejudicially highlighting many of the issues especially women and human rights. Their stories meant no empathy towards Afghan people but business. Had they been concerned about girl’s education, face covering in public places, human rights etc. they would have focused more on problems that Taliban government is highlighting in this regard. Instead of propagating core problems of Afghanistan, it is important for media mongers and policy makers to understand the internal dynamics, cultural norms and values of Afghanistan. One must adhere to a simple fact that your truth may not necessarily be my truth. Applying western democracies’ laws and values to Afghanistan would be as disastrous as applying Islamic sharia to the west. So we all need to tread carefully and practically in Taliban-led Afghanistan.

Since 2002, the US has allocated nearly $90 billion in security sector assistance to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), with the goal of developing an independent, self-sustaining force capable of combating both internal and external threats. Ironically, the ANDSF collapsed in August 2021 paving the way for the Taliban to re-establish control of Afghanistan. Why so??

Because the US approach to reconstructing the ANDSF lacked the political will to dedicate the time and resources necessary to reconstruct an entire security sector in a war-torn and impoverished country, claims US oversight authority Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in its May 2022 report. It further adds that due to the ANDSF’ dependency on U.S. military forces, events including Doha agreement 2020 and troop’s withdrawal in 2021 destroyed ANDSF morale.  On the Afghan side, other than corruption dominated government officials who often focused on personal gain at the country’s expense it were Ashraf Ghani’s fear that his own military would turn against him and suspicion that US was plotting to remove him from power facilitated Taliban take over.

After the fall of Kabul, Afghanistan is on its own. Taliban government is not recognized by other countries so they are striving to establish diplomatic ties. They are faced with worst of humanitarian crisis and trying to seek humanitarian assistance and aid from international community. They are facing attacks from common enemy ISIS but no security apparatus to contain them. It’s not the Taliban rule only which is a problem rather it is the policy failure of US-led west that has plagued the security, peace and development of Afghanistan. There is slow but steady recognition by the world powers; first the SIGAR report and then UK’ Foreign Affairs Committee confession that the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan last year was a “disaster” and a “betrayal” that will damage the nation’s interests for years. Now is the time to engage with Taliban government and let the Afghanistan heal.